Category Archives: history of science

Bodies of Evidence: Recovering Early Modern Forensic Systems

My first blog post invited you to gaze into a stranger’s viscera, and, in Cloud Atlas fashion, I seem to have ended up exactly where I started. Over the past several months, I have been cultivating an interest in bodily testimony and forensics during… Continue reading

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Thoughts on Interdisciplinarity, Cognitive Science, and 19th-Century Aesthetics

Interdisciplinary is an at times seemingly vague buzzword invoked in academia. It is often used in general documents like Vanderbilt’s academic strategic plan. Recently, however, it has become a little less of an abstract concept for me. I have spent… Continue reading

Posted in 19th-century aesthetics, cognitive science, Cognitive Studies, Daniel Levin, disciplines, history of science, interdisciplinary, Levin Lab, perception, Vanderbilt University, visual perception, Visuality | Comments Off on Thoughts on Interdisciplinarity, Cognitive Science, and 19th-Century Aesthetics

Nanotechnology and the NanoNarrative: Is Small the New Big?

Brooks Landon’s essay, “Less is More: Much Less is Much More: The Insistent Allure of Nanotechnology in Science Fiction” in the anthology, Nanoculture begins with a true statement of storytelling if I’ve ever heard one: “Size has … Continue reading

Posted in Brooks Landon, culture, history of science, homunculus, nanonarrative, nanotechnology, narrative, science, Science Fiction, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, technology, technoscience, Thomas Kuhn, Visuality | Comments Off on Nanotechnology and the NanoNarrative: Is Small the New Big?

Homo Sacer and the State of Exception in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

~”The birth of the camp in our time appears as an event that decisively signals the political space of modernity itself”–Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. In the introduction to Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power a… Continue reading

Posted in bare life, biopolitics, camp, Cary Wolfe, Giorgio Agamben, history of science, Homo Sacer, Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake, sovereignty | Comments Off on Homo Sacer and the State of Exception in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

De-Sensitizing the Operating Room: Normalizing the “Unnatural” in The Island of Dr. Moreau

I say I became habituated to the Beast People, that a thousand things that had seemed unnatural and repulsive speedily became natural and ordinary to me. (The Island of Dr. Moreau, End of Chapter 15) I used to consider myself a very squeamish person. T… Continue reading

Posted in "victorian literature, 19th Century, 20th Century, biomedicine, biopolitics, disillusion, dystopia, ethics, Ethics of science, H.G. Wells, history of science, role of scientists, Science Fiction, technology, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Visuality | Comments Off on De-Sensitizing the Operating Room: Normalizing the “Unnatural” in The Island of Dr. Moreau

Flashing a Glimpse of the Underworld

At a crucial turning point in H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895), the time traveler, having descended one of the Morlock wells “ill equipped” and “even without enough matches,” wishes he had brought, not a torch or a weapon, but a camera: Continue reading

Posted in evolution, flash photography, H.G. Wells, history of science, Jacob Riis, Science Fiction, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Time Machine, Wells, H. G. | Comments Off on Flashing a Glimpse of the Underworld

Evolution in Art?

Last night around midnight, a friend and I went for a walk through Vanderbilt’s campus with the intention of examining some of Vandy’s infamous statues. I typically rush past these art works on my way to coffee classes and meetings, so with our lei… Continue reading

Posted in charles darwin, evolution, evolution of technology, history of science, Nancy DuPont Reynolds, sculpture, the origin of species, Vanderbilt | Comments Off on Evolution in Art?

Tweeting from “the Cage”?: Applying Henry James’ Technological Critique to the 21st Century

“It had occurred to her early that in her position—that of a young person spending, in framed and wired confinement, the life of a guinea-pig or a magpie—she should know a great many persons without their recognizing the acquaintance”—so begi… Continue reading

Posted in "social media, 19th Century, Henry James, history of science, In the Cage, Jack Dorsey, technology, twitter | Comments Off on Tweeting from “the Cage”?: Applying Henry James’ Technological Critique to the 21st Century

Cholera and Miasma: Technological Progress and Medical Backwardness

In science fiction, cyberpunk, and speculative fiction, technology is often presented as an answer to social problems; we like to think of it as manna delivered from the heavens by an unseen hand to feed a people hungry for progress. However, William G… Continue reading

Posted in 19th Century, Bruce Sterling, Cholera, Florence Nightingale, Germ Theory of Disease, History of Medicine, history of science, London, Miasma, microbiology, Science Fiction, technological progress, The Difference Engine, The Great Stink, William Gibson | Comments Off on Cholera and Miasma: Technological Progress and Medical Backwardness

Objectivity, and Other Myths We Tell Ourselves

I come to my literature degree still carrying the baggage of having worked in a hospital operating room for a long time. Maybe it is not surprising to say that I have left filled with images and stories, and I am still trying to find a way of articulat… Continue reading

Posted in 20th Century, biomedicine, history of science, Lorraine Daston, meaning-making, objectivity, Peter Galison, subjectivity, Visuality | Comments Off on Objectivity, and Other Myths We Tell Ourselves